Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Author: ‘Mormons are deeply aware of their own oddness’

Author details faith’s rise and reach during its big ‘moment.’



< Previous Page


How does your book relate to the "Mormon moment" and Mitt Romney’s campaign?

Romney is sort of the walking embodiment of Mormon confidence. He has faith in his own leadership abilities, faith that the right committee can address most issues, faith that problems are basically solvable. His particular optimism, competence, and slight awkwardness all strike me as distinctly derived from Mormonism’s progressive heritage: It makes him both slightly out of place in contemporary American politics, but at the same time virtually the model of your average Mormon stake president.

At a glance

Meet the author

Matthew Bowman, author of The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith, will sign books and speak at several Utah venues in the coming week:

March 10, 7 p.m. » The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

March 15, 1 p.m. » Lecture, LDS Church History Library, 15 E. North Temple, Salt Lake City

March 15, 6 p.m. » Barnes & Noble, 500 S. and 500 West, Bountiful

March 17, 7 p.m. » Lecture, University of Utah Union building

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

His Mormon moment, though, is hardly the first; every decade or two, it seems, Americans ponder letting Mormons become mainstream, and they usually decide in the negative.

Do you think Mormonism will ever enter the mainstream? If so, why and when?

What it will take for Mormons to become mainstream is, simply, the church increasing tenfold. Much of the suspicion derives from how small, and therefore insular, the church appears. So many of these things were said about Catholics 100 years ago.

Catholics had to obey the pope, had "weird" rituals, wore "strange clothing" and did odd things like Lent and all this other stuff. So many similar accusations are now being made against Mormons.

Then, between 1890 and 1960, Catholics became 25 percent of the American population. That mainlined them better than anything that the Catholics themselves could do.

What do you hope non-Mormons will learn about the faith from reading your book?


story continues below
story continues below

I’d like non-Mormons to come away with a couple of things: first, a sense that Mormonism is in fact a very diverse movement, one with a lot of different flavors, tendencies and blends — as much as any other religion. And secondly, I’d like them to realize that Mormons themselves today wrestle with a lot of things other Americans find odd about the faith: Mormons are deeply aware of their own oddness, but also deeply confident that their oddness should not preclude them from full participation in American life.

What do Mormons think is odd about their faith?

Mormons are distinctly aware of their own status as what they call a "peculiar people," a faith with a particular mandate from heaven, particular obligations to the divine that set them apart from the world. They often perceive the world to be a place of challenge and threats, a place like St. Augustine’s City of Man, where the faithful are merely visitors. And yet at the same time they believe their faith makes their lives in that world far better, far more productive, far happier. They both fit and do not fit in the world.

Do younger Latter-day Saints experience Mormonism differently from their parents?

Mormonism, like any other institution on Earth, is always evolving, always changing. [Former] President Gordon B. Hinckley brought to the front of Mormon life a new openness, a new friendliness toward the world, a new confidence that Mormonism had little to fear in engagement with American culture and life. This has marked the faith deeply in the past two decades.

pstack@sltrib.com

Facebook.com/religiongal

Twitter: @religiongal



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.